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Seton Hall University Health and Medical Sciences

Seton Hall Graduate Occupational Therapy Students Provide a CarFit Community Event in Montclair

A photo of a group of people

MSOT CarFit student participants with Montclair Chief of Police Todd Conforti (top left), Ronald Esposito (top row, second from the left), Montclair Bureau Supervisor Lt. Stephanie Egnezzo (top right), Deputy Chief of Operations Wilhelm Young (bottom left), and Dr. Picard (bottom row, second from left). Esposito is a Senior Safety Specialist, Public Relations, AAA Northeast. He has served as Dr. Picard's community partner for 9+ years, helping train the students and coordinate and run the CarFit events.

On Thursday, June 9, 2022, students in the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program, Class of 2023, participated in a community CarFit event in Montclair's Nishuane Park to enhance safety prospects for older adult drivers. 

CarFit is a national education program designed to increase older adult safety and fit (ergonomics) in their vehicles. The program was created by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), AARP, AAA, and the Department of Aging. Community CarFit events are now managed by AARP, AAA, and AOTA. 

Even though older adult drivers are generally safe drivers, self-limit driving as they age, and are less likely to be in auto accidents than their younger counterparts, they are more likely to be severely injured or killed in a crash due to the physical changes in body structures that accompany the aging process. 

A photo of a group of studentsCarFit is a wellness program that delivers education. It is not a driving test, and does not determine whether an older adult is fit to drive. During CarFit community events, participating older adult drivers undergo a free screening process using a 12-point checklist that includes information about the fit of their seatbelts, steering wheel position and tilt, line of sight above the steering wheel, position to gas and brake, mirror adjustments that eliminate blind spots, operation of vehicle controls, and some physical abilities. If a CarFit technician identifies a problem, an occupational therapist is then asked to discuss potential options to increase fit and comfort. Participants receive a copy of the CarFit checklist that was performed with their vehicle as well as resources to support continued safe driving. 

A photo of a group of students.In preparation for the event, MSOT students received classroom training by Meryl Picard, Ph.D., M.S.W., OTR, Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, and Ronald Esposito, Senior Safety Specialist, Public Relations, AAA Northeast, followed by a practice session on the Interprofessional Health Sciences campus in Nutley, and delivery to older adults in the afternoon. 

The CarFit community event was the first that SHU could schedule since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirteen older adults attended and were educated and fitted to their vehicles. The SHU MSOT students who attended are now all CarFit technicians and can also deliver the role of the occupational therapist at future CarFit events or to individuals during clinical practice. 

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Categories: Health and Medicine